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This facilitates deeper analysis of the dichotomy between public and private that dominated life in early America. Labor in this period was conjured both as cause for punishment and as punishment itself. This was part of an effort to ensure that the lower classes participated in the labor economy to an extent deemed sufficient by lawmakers and law enforcement, coerced by the looming fear of punishment for vagrancy and punitive incarceration.

One of the ways that authorities attempted to limit the negative impacts of poverty was through regulation and control of the activities of those most deeply affected by it. This had a particularly profound effect on those whom the revolution compelled to claim their own liberty, as myriad laws implemented at the end of the eighteenth and into the early nineteenth century curtailed the movements of runaway enslaved people and servants in an effort to punish and reform their impulse to independence. Manion argues convincingly that one of the most important consequences of being poor, especially for women and for people of color, was the criminalization of the activities associated with the status of being impoverished.

This book tells a compelling story about how subsistence activities—the theft of food, rebellion against abusive owners or employers, and prostitution, to name a few—were viewed by elites and authorities as dangerous, illegal, and immoral and opened the discussion of the criminalization of certain sexualities and sexual activities.

The History of Mass Incarceration in the US, Part 1

Considerations of sex and sexuality, most threateningly between prisoners, was central to the regulation of inmate populations. Authorities responded to the proclivities of the populace by introducing a series of impediments to sexual activities within prisons, between men and women as well as same-sex involvements. This emphasis on women expands the range of sources for the ideas covered in this book, but there is also reliance on separate spheres ideology to explain gendered distinctions in crime, punishment, and charitable reform efforts that occasionally reads as incomplete or perhaps over-simplified.

The emphasis on the tension between the public and the private is compelling at all levels. It also further acknowledges the ways in which the prison both reflected the order that was in place outside of it as well as attempted to impose a new, spatially arranged and segregated system on its inhabitants.

The Dual Penal State: American Penality between Law and Police (Pt. 3)

This shift in terminology affected whites as well, who began to be denoted as white in penal records for the first time. Perhaps the most important achievement in this text is the key analytical perspective of poverty and imprisonment in early Philadelphia not as a class status and a temporary infringement on liberty but as a circulation throughout the city that infused daily life.

There was a constant back-and-forth between the almshouse and the prison, Manion writes, that functioned essentially as a continuum for the poor and for subsistence criminals. This created a relationship between the two groups, including admixture, as well as intra-institutional links between the two socio-political and built structures.

On the subject of policing, the text reads with a sense of twenty-first-century urgency, most potently in the discussion of legislation to prevent the entrance and movement of free blacks in Pennsylvania. These connections are expanded in the conclusion, where the issue of explicitly disproportionate racial representation in the prison population is afforded paramount importance in the enduring significance of these issues. In this way, philanthropy, especially conducted privately, did more harm than good for the lower and criminal classes and perpetuated the legacy of social control that originally led to the rise of the prison.

She teaches in the Department of History at Rutgers University-New Brunswick, where she acts as coordinator of public history. Prison labour was cheaper, steadier and more easily disciplined than free labour, and for many contractors these were all attractive in light of the unionisation of free workers and their increasingly vocal demands for higher wages and shorter hours.

The key systems of contractual prison labour emerged after prison factories, piece-price, convict leasing, and public account. Two-thirds of these prisoners worked exclusively for private enterprise. Prison factories saw relationships between inmates and civilian contractors and employees develop sometimes in opposition to or conflict with those with the guards and wardens.

With its large numbers of prison labourers and history of labour activism, New York was the crucial battleground in a national conflict over penal servitude. Penal reform also became enmeshed in the bitter wider political struggles, over machine politics, patronage, social justice and so on of the early 20th century. The production of goods for state agencies also required a unified, centralised, and bureaucratically administered prison system.

While compulsory productive labour remained firmly entrenched in penal law, discourse, and ideology, and was a central preoccupation of the early progressive reformers, the period also saw various innovations, including introduction of new inmate classification systems, upgraded accommodation and cells, abolition of the silent rule, the use of privileges and incentives in a new disciplinary system, and the extension of literacy and vocational provision for inmates. As progressive prison reform was aimed primarily at able-bodied adult men serving longer sentences, and accompanied by a rhetoric that emphasised the building of manly citizens, it generated massive administrative challenges in the classification and redistribution of inmates according to gender, age, severity of offence, and health.

Similarly, adult male prisoners were divided into three hierarchical grades of labourer. This is not to say that McLennan lacks awareness of this, rather that she must have more to say on these issues. Certainly, L. By the s it was clear that state prison industries could not deliver either self-sustaining prisons or a full work day for the majority of adult male inmates, but prison system administrators and penologists had still to find lasting solutions to the financial, disciplinary and ideological problems that had emerged from the abolition of contract labour.

The major unrest at Sing Sing in summer underlined the continued need for fundamental reforms in the physical conditions of the old stone Bastille-prison and to the disciplinary and labour regimes. The last three chapters explore its origins, development and impact.

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Osborne envisioned a new mode of penal discipline whereby the prisoners would take responsibility for policing the prison yard as well as the daily order in the workshops, mess hall, and marching lines. He viewed prisoner police powers as essential to prisoner self-discipline. This was prisoner self-government imposed from the top down but inmates were willing to embrace and utilise aspects of the new penology and disciplinary apparatus on their own terms. Clearly, the League was a crucial provider of organised sporting, musical, and other recreational activities including movie screenings from early , all of which radically altered everyday life at the prison.

The League was established also at Sing Sing even before Osborne became warden. Like their Auburn counterparts, inmates enjoyed for the first time organised athletic events, baseball games, screening of motion pictures, music and other entertainments. However, Sing Sing remained an overcrowded, dingy and depressing prison. Sing Sing inmates whose English was deficient or non-existent were excluded from MWL membership and franchise.


Treatment of Prisoners

Further, the restructuring of labour and training and the establishment of job placement programmes for paroled or discharged inmates were underpinned by racial ideas about manly worker-citizens in an industrialised economy. Programmes designed to socialise prisoners as citizens were implicitly aimed at white native-born Americans and European immigrants. Black inmates did not enjoy the same access to prison education provision or to post-release employment.

Racial segregation within the prisons was also formalised and more rigorously enforced.

However, the reasons for this are not clear. But, were there increasing numbers of non-white prisoners as a result of black migration out of the South? Obviously, disfranchisement and segregation were already firmly entrenched in the South.

Nevertheless, Sing Sing became a laboratory for new penal ideas and a demonstration of the new penology in action. McLennan notes that while the Sing Sing MWL is often referred to in prison historiography, she provides the first scholarly account of this particular experiment and its political context.